Jumping onto a piano prop, Henry Crater ’20 tap danced and sang to “When I Get My Name in Lights” as young Peter Allen in the musical, “The Boy from Oz.” Crater recounted in an interview with The Phillipian that the community theater production from this past February was especially difficult since there were only ten days of rehearsal for ten days of shows.
“I was forced to take in so much material and learn so much in such a short amount of time. I really had to dedicate myself to that show for that time. I had to push everything else aside, especially since it was an hour away. I ended up having to spend [some] nights with my grandparents. It kind of took away from my social life, but it was so worth it,” said Crater.
Playing an alligator, Crater acted in his first musical, “The Jungle Book” in his local community theater when he was seven. His initial experience in this play as well as his passion for singing prompted Crater to pursue musical theater as a hobby and later as a potential career.
“I’ve always sung. I’ve always been pretty musical. Basically, from the time I learned to talk, I was singing, and then combining that with theater, acting was really a way to escape from whatever troubles I’m in at the time. There was so much freedom I could take and combining those two things is the essence of musical theater. I can express myself by acting and singing at the same time,” said Crater.
Crater signed to Nancy Carson, a talent agent for young actors, when he was in sixth grade after a mutual friend sent Carson a video of Crater singing. Throughout his middle school career, he flew back and forth from his hometown of Sanibel, Fla., to New York City to audition for Broadway and national tours.
“I never actually got a gig, but I got very close a few times. Other times, I’ve had to deal with so many rejections that have really taken a huge toll on me. Every audition experience is different, sometimes people are nice and sometimes they’re not, but it has been a huge learning experience,” said Crater.
Crater admires Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of and actor in the popular Broadway musical “Hamilton,” as a role model for his musical theater career. Both Miranda and the band “Twenty One Pilots” inspired Crater to compose and write musicals.
“[Miranda] inspired me to start composing just because there are not a whole lot of people who are male Broadway leads that also write the musicals they’re in. I’d always been thinking it was be cool to write a musical but I also wanted to be on Broadway – those two combined, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s Lin-Manuel Miranda,’ ” said Crater. “ ‘Twenty One Pilots’ is also inspiring. For Tyler Joseph, [the lead singer of Twenty One Pilots], music is his way for escaping, like ‘Hamilton’ is for me. Composition has also been my way of escaping, just pouring it all out and putting it all down and letting it go.”
Despite his busy schedule at Andover, Crater continues to audition for musicals, films, and television shows.
“Deciding to come here, I knew I wasn’t able to do a lot of auditions anymore, really just in the summer,” said Crater. “I did one of those [this Fall]. I had a Skype lesson with my acting teacher. We did it really quickly. These things are just so unexpected. We got the email for the audition from my agent the morning of and it was due that night. It was a Wednesday so I had to block out a period of time where I would be in my room, arrange everything so I could film it right.”
Although Crater has only been at Andover for two months, his theater experiences at boarding school have contrasted greatly with his experiences back home.
“Everything is right here [at Andover]. The people in school with me are the people that I rehearse with and can relate to. Everyone is just really welcoming. Whereas, at home, it was like two separate worlds – the theater world and the school world. [At Andover], it is all together and everything is close. Everyone is in the same situation,” said Crater.
At Andover, Crater has acted in “44 Plays For 44 Presidents” and participated in a medley of the musical “RENT” in Grasshopper Night. He will perform this winter in the Theatre and Dance Department’s production of “A Chorus Line.”